Wrestling: Ranking the top 10 finishing moves in history

WWE, Drew McIntyre (photo courtesy of WWE)
WWE, Drew McIntyre (photo courtesy of WWE) /
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What are the greatest finishers in wrestling history?

It’s the responsibility of pro-wrestlers and the people behind the scenes to make this work as exciting as possible for us fans to suspend our disbelief. The major thing that works for “sports-entertainment” against real sports is that its staged nature gives the creators a lot of room to make the product more dramatic and thrilling for viewers.

That’s where the finisher comes in.

A good finisher enhances the wrestler’s character and adds fuel to a match’s story. It’s supposed to be the most lethal weapon in a wrestler’s arsenal that can end the match at any given moment. The anticipation of seeing a finisher is one of the most effective tools in storytelling, with fans on the edge of their seats as they see wrestlers constantly trying to hit their finishers only to have them countered or kicked out of.

A good finisher has the potential to elevate the quality of matches and push the momentum of the wrestler forward, but the question remains, how good is good enough? Or what makes a good finisher anyway?

Is it the move’s complicated setup and huge impact like Kenny Omega’s One-Winged-Angel? Or is it the simplicity of the move that makes it a viable weapon against any and all opponents, like the superkick?

Is it the visual spectacle of the move, that highlights the athletic ability of the wrestler like Ricochet’s 630? Or is it how painful the move actually looks, like the Burning Hammer?

I think it’s fair to say that like all things entertainment, this question has no right answers. Everything from Santino Marella’s Cobra to Christian’s Unprettier has gotten over, while countless others have failed. It depends a lot on the wrestler too, as Hulk Hogan’s Leg Drop and The Rock’s People’s Elbow have proved.

Some have obviously been more successful than others, that’s what I’m going to talk about today, but before that, some honorable mentions.

All of the brilliant aerial moves like the moonsault, the shooting star press, the frog splash, and countless others, they’re all excellent finishers however, they do require setup and this list is too small.

The F5 is a devastating and believable move performed by the most legit fighter and it would’ve been on this list had Roman Reigns not kicked out of about 15 of them at Wrestlemania.

Randy Orton’s Punt for being the most deadly move in kayfabe.

Finally, the Liontamer is because it’s one of the most excruciating looking submissions of all time.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get on with it, these are the 10 greatest wrestling finishers of all time.